Walking up to the entrance of Lansbury Lawrence Primary School, you are immediately struck by the double-height glass windows framing a modern open staircase. Behind is a wall of bright yellow patterned tiles by artist Peggy Angus. Art and architectural features run throughout the school, with children interacting and learning in this unique environment. The primary school was built in 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain – it was called an example of Live Architecture, modelling utopian ideals of the types of environments children should learn in.
The history, heritage and relevance of the building shaped early conversations for this year’s education project with Lansbury Lawrence, a partner of the Poplar Consortium programme. We learnt that the school regularly gets visitors – architecture students, local history enthusiasts and we started to consider how we might better interpret the building for visitors. We were also interested to better understand what impact the school environment had on pupils? How did pupils interpret their every-day environment and what might be the most important parts for them?
The decision was made to develop a guide to Lansbury Lawrence, co-produced by year 6 pupils with the help of artist and illustrator Joe Lyward. The project began with Joe introducing his practice, showing students examples of his own illustrations and books, as well as other artists’ works that inspired him. Students learnt about Joe’s career path and what life as an illustrator is like.
Joe delivered 2 days of workshops with students. Firstly pupils identified key places within their school that for them were important, taking part in written and drawing exercises. They then learnt how to take their drawings and simplify and abstract them, making symbols.
Joe then got pupils to work collaboratively to develop theatrical tours around their school to help work out the route for the guide. As you’ll see in the video here, everyone responded enthusiastically and created entertaining and factual tours for Joe, which fed into the layout of the guide.
At this point, we started to think about the shape and size of the guide. Joe showed the class different ways you could fold paper – showing examples of how artists have used folding to obstruct and then reveal pictures and information. The class then had the chance to consider how their guide might fold – complex folding followed!
Pupils also had the chance to build skills in screen-printing with artist Eleanor Lines. Using the distinctive Peggy Angus tiles as a starting point, students developed their own pattern designs and learnt all the steps of making a successful screen-print.
Staff at Lansbury Lawrence are sympathetically adding new artworks to their school environment – including a chandelier made by artist Haidée Drew. In order for us to include this work in the guide, pupils had the chance to interview Haidée about her life as an artist and designer. Elements of this interview were then used in the guide.
Joe then took all of the artworks, tour videos and written information to create a first draft of the guide. This was shared with pupils, who tested and then made changes to the route.
The final guide was then litho- printed with expert guidance from the amazing team at Calverts. You can see the guide below. Well done to all pupils involved in researching, planning and designing this beautiful piece of print.